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When a brand celebrates its 60th anniversary, expectations are high. When the brand is the iconic Play-Doh, which has sold over 3 billion cans across 80 countries, expectations are out of this world.
The childhood staple from Hasbro, Inc., Play-Doh elicits squish-and-sculpt memories for consumers worldwide, and it turned 60 on World Play-Doh Day (WPDD), September 16, 2016. This annual “holiday” – which strategically falls ahead of the toy industry’s holiday push – launched in 2006, and has grown from a small celebration into a major international holiday for media/ fans. Given its ongoing success – & the 60th anniversary – Hasbro’s media expectations were higher than ever for WPDD 2016.
Despite those high expectations, the WPDD OOP budget was nearly half what it was in 2015, and the challenge was to double media exposure. How to do it? Get scrappy, get targeted, and capitalize on media trends.
To achieve their objectives, the agency decided to deep dive into target audiences:
- Parents/ families (core consumer)
- Mass Play-Doh fans (those driven to purchase via nostalgia)
- Business analysts (to show power of franchise in its 60th year)
- Kids themselves, as kids are directly impacting family purchasing decisions according to TIME.
To reach these audiences, Hasbro and Litzky were strategic about the type of content pitched to each outlet. In the past, the in-house designer/sculptor created different sculptures out of Play-Doh (e.g., movie-themed sculptures) that were revealed widely via media on 9/16.
While fun, media were becoming tired of these static sculptures. Litzky needed something new and edgy, so created a multi-faceted strategy to engage target media with the type of content they wanted, including user-generated content (UGC).
Instead of making their own sculpt series, they invited parents (via social media), to submit what their kids imagined life would look like 60 years into the future. These predictions (including houses in the sky, unicorn pets, self-cooking stoves, flying shoes, and more) were turned into Play-Doh sculpts, and time-lapse videos of all sculpts were recorded.
UGC made the social community feel part of WPDD, created a unique hook of kids actually informing the sculpts, & gave the campaign visually compelling assets to pitch parenting press, general media, video editors (new contacts for ’16), & social media editors (also new for ‘16).
As predicted, media loved the videos. They were featured in major outlets like USA Today, AdWeek, Mental Floss, Twist Magazine (social), Yahoo, Fast Company (social), & more. Good Housekeeping also enjoyed the futuristic idea so much their social media editor coordinated a 20-minute Facebook Live sculpting session on WPDD.
To cut through the clutter & leverage nostalgia, Litzky created Play-Doh 60th media mailers with confetti poppers, Play-Doh party hats, Play-Doh compound & mini “photo opp” inserts for media to sculpt, photograph, & socially share their creations. Mailers went out to 50 national media contacts, social media editors, & family bloggers (bloggers even threw their own Play-Doh 60th birthday parties).
Fifty percent of media who received mailers responded to and/or wrote about WPDD, & the mailers garnered 120M impressions, including fun social posts with media using the included props.
While confetti poppers & time-lapse videos work for general & parenting press, business media are an entirely different beast. Litzky took a formal approach to secure a brand story, pulling together Play-Doh facts, stats, vintage images, & figures. They secured a full-page spread in AdWeek highlighting the brand’s successful 60-year evolution.
Kids consume content much differently than adults. Research shows they’re deeply influenced by YouTube toy review channels, so Litzky coordinated an organic “Sculpt the Future” speed sculpting challenge in which 10 popular toy YouTube channels sculpted what they imagine the future to look like in 60 seconds or Challenge videos garnered 1.8M views & 1,900+ comments with fans joining in the conversation sharing their own futuristic predictions.
The WPDD news hit at the crack of dawn on 9/16 & didn’t die down until well past midnight. How’d they do?
- Litzky’s small-but-scrappy 3-person received 622M impressions in one day.
- Year-to-year media impressions increased 119% & media hits 416% (284M + 62 hits in ’15; 622M + 320 hits in ’16)
- The targeted approach engaged dozens of new media contacts, including top-tier outlets like Buzzfeed, Mental Floss, The Chive, USA Today, Good Housekeeping, Fast Co, AdWeek, & more
- Media buzz went beyond impressions; it built WOM buzz with #WorldPlayDohDay used 5,000+ times on 9/16
- Hasbro does not directly correlate PR impressions to sales, but the Play-Doh brand saw its fifth consecutive year of revenue growth, making for the brand’s largest year ever
- Sentiment on the client side was resoundingly positive, starting with great mid-day kudos from Hasbro SVP of Global Communications: “Outstanding coverage – & it’s not even noon! Well done team!!”
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